Are you feeling tried and exhausted? feeling damaged and used? The sound of the human voice can soothe even the most savage soul. Why? We can use chanting to find mental clarity, and we can literally project good vibes with our voices.
Much like the sweet melodies of a mockingbird’s call, the human vocal chords can produce a diverse range of sounds, from yelling to singing to whispering to whistling. Each of these one-of-a-kind vocalizations is comprised of their own unique range, tone, pitch, volume, and rhythm.
Whether you are belting out a favorite Broadway show tune while navigating through rush hour traffic or breathily singing a lullaby to a baby, this acapella song travels through the air in wave patterns and are called sound waves or sonic waves.
The human voice is the most intimate instrument of every culture, and with the small exception of those who take religious vows of silence, our collective lungs, voice boxes and mouths produce recognizable waves of sounds like a vocal fingerprint, recognizable even after years of not hearing it.
But, truth be told, a sense of hearing is not needed to enjoy the benefits of specifically arranged vocals, as is evidenced by the amount of auditory challenged music lovers and composers. How is it possible for hearing impaired people to be so musical in nature? Surprisingly, it is through a different sensation altogether- the sense of touch.
Vibrations in the air can be felt. Have you ever noticed a thumping sensation in your sternum or gut at a loud concert or during a bass-filled night at the club? Sounds are impacting you in the form of invisible waves, which are physically affecting your body in the form of sonic vibrations, shaken by audio.
So now we know that making music with the mouth is a commonality among societies. And, that these orally produced songs wash over us with invisible vibrating sound waves, causing a tangible feeling of movement within the body, which is created by the sound. But what is with all the repetition?
Repetitive vocal patterns, such as the undeniably catchy chorus of a pop song you hear over and over again, hold a special place in the mind, body, spirit connection. Tibetan monks are particularly adept at utilizing nothing but their own bodies to compose and perform mouth symphonies in the style of circular chanting.
The inner harmony of the chanting monk is displayed outwardly in a spectacular manner, by literally producing more than one musical note simultaneously. This dual note chanting is done through a process called circular breathing. These harmonious notes invoke calm, primal and transcendent qualities all at once, prompting the listener to turn inward explore uncharted realms of the mind and spirit.
Akin to saying words of self-reassurance on repeat or using a recurrent mantra during meditation, like the classic OM sound popularized by yoga and new age music, Tibetan throat singing brings clarity to a clouded mind.
Much like a whipping gust of wind, chanting elevates the mind to a place where it can no longer distinguish the beginning of the repeating pattern from the end, reinforcing the eternal, ever-changing ceaselessness and cyclical motion of the human spirit.